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**PRINT: FRIENDS FROM CINCINNATI: Installment 24 features this part coming-of-age short by Chicago's Patrick Somerville, author of the Trouble collection of shorts out in 2006. | PAST BROADSHEETS |

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The Revolution of Everyday Life

Pitchfork Battalion coming at you -- we fight the pathology of our times, the creeping paranoia and ignorance. Motherfucker listen: we are sometimes four, sometimes more, and here's the first hit:

Pitchfork Battalion

Joe Meno
Miss Marble notices that as soon as the last bell rings, Buddy does not rush to the back of the room to put on his coat and snow boots. For some reason, this makes her worried. She watches as the small, round-faced boy sits at his desk and waits while the other kids begin to leave. Buddy is a sixth grader, generally likable, and one year older than the rest of the class. Miss Marble herself is only 22. She has red hair and very fine features. She is a white girl from the suburbs, teaching at a nearly all black school. She knows she will not make it to the end of the year, which is more than three months off and more than she can handle.

At MLK high school, Miss Marble is stared at like a ghost. The eighth-grade boys, tall in basketball jerseys with full-grown mustaches, pricey watches, and gold chains about their necks, whistle at her in the hallway. She ignores them, which does not help. Every day, like her students, she sits completely mollified, hopelessly watching the clock, wondering why she is doing what she is now doing.

Buddy stands finally and walks up toward the front of the class. He is carrying his black bag. Immediately, she feels fear and then feels guilty for feeling that fear. As he comes closer, she notices the small shaved spiral along his low hairline. It is a haircut he has been teased about throughout the year. Buddy, looking glum, reaches into his bag and pulls out a shiny silver Halloween mask. It is small, nearly featureless, with holes for the eyes and the nose, and thin silvery lips.

"I brought this for you," Buddy says, placing it on the edge of her desk.

"What is it?"

"That's the Silver Surfer. He fights the Fantastic Four. He used to be bad but now he's good."

"He's a superhero?" she asks.

"Naw," Buddy says. "Kind of. He flies through space on his surfboard. He fights space monsters. He's really tough."

"Well thanks, Buddy."

Buddy nods, unsure now of why he has done what he has done, and so he stops by the doorway. "Silver Surfer is my favorite comic book in the world," the boy says. "We were talking about favorite books yesterday, so. Well, that's all I'm saying."

"OK. Thanks, Buddy." The boy exits and Miss Marble, looking out the doorway to be sure she is alone, tries on the mask. She sits behind the desk, staring from behind the small, thin piece of plastic, and for once, does not begin to cry.

Mickey Hess
What my ex-friend Will used to do was sweep his hand up his forehead when he was surprised or exasperated. It was a nervous tick. His hair would stick up miraculously, defying gravity, which made us all laugh so much that he started doing it more often.

Then one night Kirsten told him he should look at himself in the mirror. I think she wanted to get him in on the joke, to let him see it the way we did, but Will didn't look happy with what he saw, and since then he doesn't sweep his hair anymore.

If you like something about someone, something they do, don't tell them. You will only make them change.

Sean Carswell
Charlie went through his daily ritual with his wine, tipping the cup sideways as if he could see anything through the translucent plastic, righting the cup, swirling the wine, and giving it a good sniff all before downing the cupful in one gulp. I should tell you that the wine Charlie drank was so cheap that we couldn't get it through our distributor. I had to pick it up from the A&P on the way in to work. The jug had a metal screw-on cap. I kept it well hidden behind the bar. The fact that we carried it and served it to Charlie violated about ten different liquor laws. I didn't care. What was the point in paying off the cops if we didn't stretch some laws, anyway?

Old guys like Charlie made my job worth it.

I refilled his cup and Charlie said, "How's your little lawyer doing?"

There was no lawyer. It was all an elaborate tale I told Charlie. He liked to live vicariously through my lies. I told him, "She's something else, Charlie. I don't mean to brag, but she's something else."

Charlie swirled his wine, sniffed it, swallowed it, and said, "Do tell."

I rested a foot on a box of syrup that fed the soda gun, leaned my elbow onto my knee, came in close to Charlie and said, "She's teaching me French. Last night, she taught me mange ma plut. It's the sexiest phrase I know."

"What's that mean?" Charlie asked.

"It means," I looked up and down the bar, even though only a handful of people were in the joint and no one else was close enough to hear. "It means, 'eat my pussy.' "

Charlie leaned back, a little stunned. I wondered for a second if I'd gone too far. Charlie was an old-timer. This may have been more than he wanted to hear. But before I could worry too much, he grinned, his meaty lips stretching across his dentures. He smacked his palm down on the bar and said, "Carswell, you got the devil in you." His voice boomed, wrapping around me like a hug.

And I don't know if he believed a word. The truth was, I hadn't had a date in months. My heart was still hungover from the last time a broad had a hold of it. And maybe I was living just as vicariously through my own lies as Charlie was.

He pushed his empty cup to me. I filled it with wine. This cup he would sip. That was his way. Drink two glasses in about three minutes, and nurse the third one for half an hour. He tilted the cup again and said, "Son, you make me wish I was forty years younger." He glanced over to one of the tables, where three young women were drinking the expensive wine in actual glasses. "What I wouldn't do if I was forty years younger."

Which was probably the truth of the matter, because he probably wouldn't do most things if he were forty years younger. Just like he didn't do most things when he was forty years younger. Just like I didn't do most of the shit I told him about now.

I let it slide, though, and laid out the further adventures of my alter ego, out from behind the bar, banging a gorgeous prosecuting attorney like we were being filmed, and taking her for all her dough. Charlie listened and grinned and acted like he believed it all. It was an ego boost, just to believe that someone would believe all these things of me. Just to think that maybe I could.

It kinda filled me with confidence. So much so that, when one of the wine-drinking broads from the table came up to me, looking for a refill, I said, "What can I get for you there, pretty lady?"

I didn't quite mean to say that to her, but damn if she didn't look at me a little doe eyed and smile.

Todd Dills
Listen: I get drunk. I mean it. I'm not embarrassing myself. Yes of course that's a matter of perspective, so: I don't feel embarrassed when the table talks on and there's a half-full bottle of wine and nobody else is drinking, anymore -- afraid to pick it up or just done, they've had enough, whatever they are -- and I do pick it up, and finish it off while we all talk and they sober up or whatever it is they're doing. I like the pick-up-glass/turn-back/feel-the-tannin-bite-in-yr-salivary-glands, rinse, repeat. I like to get drunk. Simple. Really, the idea doesn't bother me in the slightest; I don't even think about it until you tell me I was too drunk. No, I don't. What did I say that so offended? Did I even offend anyone, was I particularly loud? Nothing. I mean I only even had to take a piss twice the whole time, so the sound of the pee jet and tinkle-tinkle can't be what's so embarrassing. I only even farted three times, and they were silent and nobody noticed, not even you, and even if they had how would it have been possible to identify the farter when there's eight of us in the room. By process of elimination, if you wanna say that ladies don't fart, that gives you three, and then you might not count as a lady, cause I've heard and smelled the evidence. So maybe four. So somebody farted, so what -- we are humans and we stink to high heaven, Pop used to say. So really you're embarrassed for yourself -- is the truth of the matter, embarrassed on my account, I don't live up to the standards, I could be a better man, kind of thing. And we have been through this how many times? Now, which cake do you like for the wedding?

SEAN CARSWELL'S Gorsky Press: check out his latest: Barney's Crew